The Annual Mother Swift Bequest Society lunch was held on 25 May, coinciding the Feast of Madeleine Sophie Barat.
Alumna and the first of the guest speakers, Jane Burns (FR ’51) recalled her memories of ‘Swifty’ and in particular, the things she felt Mother Swift stood for.
Jane summarised her beliefs about ‘Swifty’:
“The things about her that stand out for me as THINGS SHE STOOD FOR and by which I hope she is remembered are:
- Her lively sense of humour
- Her love for the arts
- Her integrity and self confidence in her life decisions and especially her decision to enter religious life
- The importance she placed on connectivity or perhaps networking is a better word
- Her never ending interest in pursuit of knowledge. She enrolled at Sydney University in Elementary Hebrew in 1965 aged 53 by my reckoning
- Her courage in pushing barriers. Remember when she came to Sancta as Principal she came from an enclosed order of nuns wearing the habit, to meet with other College Principals and University personnel who recognised her as absolutely equal to the task. I remember talking to Dr. Leonie Starr, Women’s College Principal in Swifty’s time who said that she played a significant part in College meetings and discussions on all aspects of University life. Nothing was taken for granted.
- Her fortitude in returning to the practice of law at the end of her Sancta career. No mean feat to get back into the daily round of stress and struggle of solo practice.
- Her active participation in and interest in life.
She definitely made her mark. And what more can we hope for. But it doesn’t happen miraculously. Rather it requires much innate talent and application and extra measures of the special qualities I hope I’ve raised here.”
Jane then sang a hymn with words James Macauley and the music by Richard Connolly. The hymn was written in Swifty’s time at Sancta and is ascribed in the official GATHER Hymnal to Sancta Sophia:
Jesus in your Heart we Find
Love of the Father and Mankind
These Two Loves to us Impart
Divine Love in a Human Heart
Alumna, Jennifer Laffan (FR ’60), spoke of Mother Swift’s intellect and her respect for and parallels with Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Interestingly, Mother Swift holds a book by de Chardin in her portrait that hangs in the Dining Hall
Our youngest member of the Mother Swift Bequest Society, Ella Butcherine (FR ’14) was inducted in recognition of her intention to leave Sancta a gift in her Will, and the bequest from Gwendoline Fitzpatrick (FR ’35) was gratefully acknowledged.